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Sally J. Schmidt responds:
Presuming that you are an effective presenter, there are two primary reasons why speaking at CLE programs may not generate work for your practice. The first is if lawyers are not the best sources of business for you. The second is if you aren't following up with the programs' attendees. Let's look briefly at each of these issues.
Many lawyers spend their time speaking at CLE programs when, in fact, the program participants are their competitors. Of course, for some practices- such as bankruptcy or appellate law-competitors can actually be good referral sources. However, for many lawyers, it makes much more sense to spend time preparing and presenting speeches targeted to potential clients or other types of referral sources-insurance agents, real estate brokers, environmental consultants or accountants, for example.
Even when other lawyers are good sources of business-whether they are in the same area of practice or have complementary practices (such as estate planners targeting personal injury lawyers)-if you want referrals from them, you need to have regular, sustained and substantive follow-up communications with them. A single "thank you for coming to the seminar" letter will not do the trick. To see results, you must find ways to provide your program attendees with information that they will perceive to be valuable and that will build the perception of your expertise. For example, you might provide updates on cases you referenced in your speech, information about new resources related to your topic, or alerts about changes in laws or regulations related to the issue you addressed.
Sally J. Schmidt , President of Schmidt Marketing, Inc., has counseled more than 300 law firm clients over the past 16 years.